High-level pledging conference for the Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen, Speech given by Mr Peter Maurer President of the International Committee of the Red Cross

Excellencies, distinguished representatives.

Yemenis continue to suffer outrageously, with COVID-19 the latest strike in a long list of assaults.

The ICRC, Yemen Red Crescent, partner National Societies, and IFRC remain committed to the Yemeni people.

Our unique strengths are in combining local and international expertise; professionals and volunteers working closely with communities where others are not; responding to a broad spectrum of needs.

Right now we are:

  • Providing frontline emergency aid;
  • Supporting broken health systems; fixing essential civilian infrastructure;
  • Scaling up our response to the pandemic including through the community outreach of national society volunteers;
  • Finding answers for families of missing people; upholding the dignity of detainees; supporting the release of conflict-related prisoners;
  • And we are facilitating agreements between belligerents as a neutral intermediary so that a broader humanitarian response is possible.


People’s needs are enormous, yet neutral humanitarian work is routinely blocked or politicized by conditioning it to intractable political progress. Blackmailing people into misery is not an option.

Today we make four calls:

One, only a political solution to the conflict will create conditions for a sustainable improvement of the desperate humanitarian situation… but conditioning aid to political progress is taking the people of Yemen hostage.

Two, IHL, and other relevant international laws must be respected by all those participating in the fighting to protect civilian life and infrastructure.

Three, full humanitarian access must be facilitated in accordance with IHL. Access is an obligation, not an option.

Authorities must facilitate unhindered access to communities unless security reasons are evident. The movement of goods and humanitarian staff into Yemen is critical and must be enabled. Every day that passes without this precious aid costs lives.

We recognize the recent efforts of authorities to facilitate medical goods into the country. We could save so many more lives if these basic standards were consistently in place.

Four, COVID-19 threatens to overwhelm the attention and resources of many donor countries. To reduce or condition assistance would be catastrophic. We urge all donors to urgently scale up your support in the face of escalating needs.

Thank you.


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